Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 2 months ago

Friends & Fiction with Shelby Van Pelt

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Fab Four sit down with Shelby Van Pelt, the author of the smash hit and much buzzed about debut novel REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES which was an instant New York Times bestseller, named one of Amazon’s #1 Best Books of the Year, chosen as a Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick, and named a Best Book of Summer by the Chicago Tribune, The View, Southern Living, and USA Today. The gang have a fun and insightful conversation about Shelby's writing process, her path to publication, her inspiration for the caharacter of Marcellus the octopus, and what it's been like to have her very first book—the quirky story of a widow who befriends an aquarium-dwelling octopus—burst onto the literary scene in such grand fashion.

Welcome to friends and fiction for New York Times bestselling authors endless stories. Novelists Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry are four longtime friends with more than seventy published books between them. Together they host friends and fiction with author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing to highlight and support independent bookstores. They discussed the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Hello everyone, it's a Wednesday night and it's time for the happiest hour on the Internet, friends and fiction. We are really looking forward to spending the evening with all of you, so let's get started. I'm Christie Woodson Harvey, I'm Patti Callahan Henry, I'm Mary Kay Andrews, I'm Kristin Harmel, and this is friends and fiction for New York Times bestselling authors endless stories, to support independent bookstores, authors and Librarians. Tonight we will be talking with the one and only shelby van Pelt, who we know a lot of you on the page. Are Really big fans of author of remarkably bright creatures. So I'm so excited. But before we begin, did you know that we have friends and fiction? Are currently reading as the wicked watch by Tamarin Hall in our behind the Book Book Club with fable? So of course you know Tamaron as an emmy winning TV journalist Um host of her own show, and we hope that you caught an amazing episode with her a few weeks ago. I'm still thinking about how open, how honest, how real she was with us. It was so much fun. But you know, her book is that way too, and in the fable APP we're diving deep into it. It's called as the WI could watch. I'm on fable leading the discussion. All you have to do to read along with us is to download the fable APP join our premium club. It's just five dollars a month Um. And if you have not joined yet, you can download the fable APP and take advantage of the fourteen day free trial that fable is offering right now. You can learn more at fable DOT Co. backslash friends and fiction. And have you heard, our new friends and fiction first edition box is available now. From the indie bookstore booktown with an e on the end in Manasqua, New Jersey, and it features signed first editions from all four of us in and you'll receive in your subscription box a kitchen towel that says dinner can wait. It's time for friends and fiction. You can order your subscription box order multiple copies. Okay, they make great gifts. You can own them right now at booktown with an e on the end dot com. And have you seen our fall schedule for Wednesday night show? It's under announcements on our facebook page for all of the ninety two thousand friends and fiction members and counting right now. So next week we have Elizabeth strout with her new book, Lucy by the sea, and we hear you. We hear you, we listen to you, and we know you have been asking for a just US episode and the following week we will do just that and we have so much in store for you. M Hm. Speaking of just us, Um, we know you'll have been loving or ask us anything segment and we are loving it too. So we just wanted to let you know that we're going to be doing that at the end of the show tonight. Will be Um taking your questions live, so drop a question for us or for shelby at any point in the show. For now, we want to get to shelby van Pell and then let's shall we get back to her night and her children? Yeah, yeah, we're still looking forward to this. So Shelby van Pell's debut novel, remarkably bright creatures, was released earlier this year, although I'm not sure we need to say that. I feel like everybody knows that. I feel like it's the book everyone is talking about right. Absolutely so. The best selling novel was a read with Jenna pick for the month of May, and the Washington Post calls it and ultimately feel good but deceptively sensitive debut. Born and raised in the Pacific northwest, shelby now lives in Chicago with her husband and two children when she isn't feeding her feeding. This is a hard thing to say, isn't her flash fiction? Addiction, Juggling job? Yeah, juggling cats while wrangling children. Sean, did you bring shelby on? Hi, say hello. We're so excited to have you here. So, to start us off, we can't imagine that there is anyone left in the world who does not already know about this book, for anyone who has not been lucky enough to read it, because it's just an amazing, amazing novel. Can you tell...

...us what remarkably bright creatures is about, and then can you tell us what it's really about? Well, you know, as I like to say, it's it's a book about an octopus. But you know, it's not really a book about an octopus. Um, it does feature an octopus as one of the narrators, Um, which was by far the most fun part of the book to write and I think from what I've heard from readers, it's one of their favorite parts of the book to read as well. But it follows the story of a captive giant Pacific octopus in a fictional small town in the Pacific northwest. and Um, an older woman in her seventies named Toba comes to clean the aquarium at night and it's a job that she just does for something to do. You know, she doesn't really need the money, but she's just lonely and Um kind of keeps busy as a way of coping with a lot of losses that she's had in her life. And so she and Marcella's have kind of a chance encounter and they become friends and, of course, of their friend ship they sort of solve some unanswered questions that Toba has had from from her life. Beautiful. And so what it's really about? I guess it's a it's a novel about a lot of things. Um, you know, friendship, like unlikely friendship in particular. Um, sort of finding what you don't know that you needed when you're not really looking for it. Um. And then about second chances. You know, both Marcellus and Tova are sort of entering this later phase of life. Um. In marcellus case he's literally counting down the days left in his lifespan because he's getting towards the end of it, and so it's sort of Um, you know, speaks to it never really being too late to make a change or to to kind of start over. I love that. So, shelby, this book is humorous and Quirky, heartwarming and page turning, sort of all the things at once. I mean you just hit every nail right in the head. It's amazing. So you deal a lot with the theme of grief in this novel. Um, not only the grief of Tova losing her husband, but also her really impossible grief of living with the anguish of having a son who disappeared and never finding out what happened to him. Um. So tovis seems somewhat stuck in her life, and Marcellus, the octopus is Um is stuck as well, but in a much more literal set. So Um. I guess what I'm wondering is, what do you hope the readers take away from this novel overall, but specifically, what do you hope they take away when it comes to grief and moving forward in life? Because it kind of seems like, Um, that's that's what we're really circling around in this book, I think. Yeah, I mean circling around it literally, because I think that was one of the images that Um really inspired me when I was first starting to write the book. was, you know, just thinking of watching fish and a fish tank and the way that they just kind of circle and take the same path over and over again and, you know, never really break out of sort of habit really and it is very much a book about getting unstuck. Um. It was kind of funny. I did a lot of the writing of it during the first months of the pandemic and kind of felt like I was in an aquarium sometimes, you know, looking at my front window like kind of watching, you know, the world go by or like not go by at that time. So I think, you know, for me that kind of that theme very much resonated at that time in my life too, that you know, hey, you know, sometimes you just find yourself stock and you've got to kind of kind um do what, do what it takes to become unstuck. And you know, until this case, that's really just like kind of making herself vulnerable in a way that she has never allowed herself to do before. and Um, so yeah, I think if, Um, if I if there was something that I hoped people might take away from it. You know, aside from I've had a lot of people say they won't eat octopus anymore, which is cool. Me, I was like I will never like twice way, but I was like never again, not ever. Um, you know, shelby, Um, we know that you were born and raised in the Pacific northwest and we love the small town field of this novel and the puge it sounds setting. How did we're wondering, I'm wondering, how did your upbringing inspire the setting and the very vivid sense of community resounds in this novel. And also, were you into aquariums before you decided to write this book? Um. Well, so, I love small towns and books too, and I think they just provide such a fun backdrop for people to be in each other's business, Um, which is something that I always really loved read. So I knew that wanted. I wanted that to be a part of a book that I was going to write. was that, Um, you know, the tension between people kind of being gossipy, being in each other's business, and then some people maybe not wanting that as much, but not but not being able to escape it. Um. Yes, I grew up in Chacoma, Washington, which is a bigger town than the fictional that's not really small. No, Um,...

...but you know, I spent the first eighteen years of my life in that area and just had, you know, family all up and down. Still have a lot of family all over western Washington and I really wanted to capture kind of a city that was far enough away from Seattle, a town that it wasn't really a suburb of Seattle. It was its own town with its own dynamics Um, but was close enough that it wasn't, you know, totally off the map or, you know, backwoods. I guess. I don't know. Um, you know, it's just it's just a typical small town. But yeah, I really drew a lot from my childhood. I wouldn't say it was an aquarium enthusiast, but I did love going when I was a kid. Um, I went to the point defiance zoo and aquarium, which is in Tacoma, and they had this old cement aquarium that kind of inspired the Solo Bay Aquarium. It was just kind of like dirty and smelly and dark and damp and I really loved it when I was a kid and I think my parents would get annoyed because we would go to the zoo and they'd be like Oh, let's go look at the irons and I'm like no, I want to hang out in the seed. Um. Speaking about your upbringing, there's such a sense of family in this novel and I read that Toba was inspired by Your Own Grandmother, which I love. Um, my grandmother inspired has inspired some characters and some of my books too. Can you tell us about your grandmother and some similarities and differences to your Toba? Sure. Well, yesterday would have been her birthday if she were still Um. That popped up on one of my facebook feeds yesterday and it would kind of made me a little teary. Um. Yeah, so my grandmother was kind of this older Swedish Lady, very similar to Toba in that way, very stoic, like very kind and warm, but like very guarded about herself and what was going on inside. And I was an only child and we lived next to my grandparents when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, like way more time than the typical person spence with the grandparents and you know, so I'd kind of follow her around and she did you know, she was always cleaning. She was always like, Oh, I'm gonna pull this box of linen's down from the linen closet and iron them just you know. Um, so she you know, I just was kind of her little shadow and she was doing a lot of that stuff. So I think I picked up on a lot of her mannerisms, the way that she kind of thought and and spoke and acted. And, you know, as I got older, and particularly after she passed away, you know, my my grandfather had passed away about ten years prior to her. So she lived the last decade of her life just basically doing like that same thing, you know, just in this house, like, you know, having tea, tea and coffee with her friends. But I think that kind of dropped off as she got older, because it just does. and Um, I just always wondered, like did she ever want to do anything different, like did that make her happy? Um, you know, she always seemed like clean made her happy, but does that really do it for anyone? I mean I just always wondered what was going on. Not Either. I always wondered what was going on underneath the surface there, if she was if she liked to, you know, was kind of trying to just avoid being real or avoid, you know, that kind of vulnerability in connection. Yeah, I think, shelby, I'm just gonna Guess, but I think it's safe to say that you have had a pretty remarkable debut experience and we've read that you in an interview that you were taking a writing class when you started working on these vignettes from the Octopus's point of view and that a real octopus inspired this story. So can you tell all of us about the research you did, especially for Marcelis, the octopus. Well, well, you know, I didn't really do a whole lot of research before I started writing Um because, like you mentioned, this is sort of something that just popped into my head and, you know, I was in this fiction writing class and we were asked to just, you know, just do this writing exercise on a piece of notebook paper, and so I kind of started it and then, you know, as I kind of got more into it and was like, Oh, I want to develop this more than like, yes, I didn't start going down the many internet rabbit holes that available when it comes to octopuses, and I highly recommend all of them because they are great fun. Um and it felt like a really interesting time to be researching octopuses, because it felt like every few weeks another article will come out of research that they had found like, you know, Oh, we found evidence that octopuses can dream, or, you know, they can do this, this or that. That was one of my favorite ones was they had found out that octopuses will like punch fish that swim by just for fun. My older brother does to. Yes, that's awesome, but you know, just so there's come out every so often and and now the greatest thing is that...

...people send them to me. I didn't even have to look for them on my own. They just laid in my in box, which it's wonderful. But I really did more of the research. I kind of got to, you know, developed more Sellas as a character and then went back and said, okay, Um, can I pull this off like, you know, where do I need to make adjustments here so that it feels plausible? You know, I don't want to say real, because it's fiction and he u is a fictional character, but I wanted it to feel plausible enough that it wouldn't make readers roll their eyes or, you know, kind of pull them out of the out of the story, and so I you know, I asked, Um, a couple of friends who were in the marine biology world to read some of the sections and give me feedback, and I had them put me in touch with some people that could answer like specific questions about, well, you know, when you're giving an octopus anesthesia, like, you know, if noticed that all these very technical things that I personally did not have any direct experience with. So I guess I kind of took more of like ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Approach to the research. Like I did a lot of the character developing and then kind of went back and changed it where. I yeah, changed it where I needed to change it to make it m be believable. What was the writing exercise? What did they ask you to do? Did they say like right from a creature's point of view? Because I'm thinking back to when I was taking writing classes twenty five years ago or whatever, and I would have been scared to take that chance. So this is this. I loved this, but I'm curious what the actual writing exercise was. I think it wasn't. I think it was an unconventional point of view or an unexpected point of view. Maybe it was an unsthing. Um, it was not a person point of view. I mean, I guess it could be a person, but and again, this was just like, you know, this was the first fifteen minutes of this class. It was like just, you know, meant to kind of get the juice flowing type of thing. Um, you know, I don't think any of us were meant to take what we wrote there and make it into a novel. Um, I certainly didn't expect to you until kind of later down the line. Well, that's the best part, that you didn't expect to that's the best part. You were just writing what felt fun and and interesting to you. So we have a lot of aspiring writers who tune in and sometimes, especially with a debut like yours, it can look easy from the outside. I mean, we know it's not. Can you tell us just a little bit about the process of getting your path to publication? You know, you've explained a little bit about how you wrote it, where it came from, but how how did it go from that writing exercise to publication? Well, it was it was often on for a few years. I mean that writing exercise was probably six or seven years ago at this point, you know, and I think I was pregnant with my um daughter, who's no eight, so maybe it was even longer than that, but Um, but yeah, so it was very much up and down for a few years and Um, you know, really it was about two dozen nineteen that I kind of got more serious about well, maybe I should actually try to write a novel. I had joined a couple of writing groups at that point and was sort of inspired and fired up by all the people that were talking about querying and, you know, kind of taking it to the next level. So I decided I wanted to try to do that and Um, there are a lot of kind of Um, wrong turns along the way on the writing. I didn't know how to write it. I mean I didn't know how to write a novel. I didn't understand well a lot of what I am starting to understand better now about, you know, acts and beats and you know how to pace it and how to keep the tension Um kind of ebbing and flowing in certain parts. Uh, you know, really the things that make our reader's experience a reading a story. Like I knew how to write. I was always pretty good at writing, like I had that part in and I had the characters down, but figuring out how to make them into a story was something that took a lot of, Um, practice and kind of frustration and mistakes on the way. Um, at one point I think I was like googling, you know, how to talk to write a novel, like just it was literally Um, amateur hour over here. But every time we start another book we feel like that. Every start again. Every time I'll text them. How do you you guys, how do we write a book. I don't want to see and I definitely all the aspiring writers out there. We're going to post questions. Just exactly what was that writer's workshop she took and can we take yeah, really, you know, the thing is you can, because it was not anything fancy. It was just one of these like continuing education Um, you know this one. I was living in Atlanta at the time. It was at emory university. I think they're still offering it. Evening things. The First Class I talk that's my first class was evening at emory. Yeah, memory, you taught him it?...

Yeah, evening with emory. I mean that was embarrassed emory. And so I saw the classes and I was like I'm gonna take that. I was literally I had just I had just moved to Atlanta and we didn't know anyone there and Um, at our house, we we thought that, you know that this was when they did like the paper catalogs that came in the mill and it was for the previous resident because, you know, we're still getting some of their mail. But I'm like flipped them through it. I was like I should take a class, you know, that would be good to do something, and so that was the class I took and it literally changed my life. so that's so crazy. That's nuts. Wow, oh my gosh, I love that. We always find these like crazy commonalities on the best. Yeah, shelby, we I've read that. You said that you'll never be a plotter and an outline or an outliner because your brain, quote doesn't work like that, and I was like Ding, Ding, being like mine doesn't either. I totally understand. Even now, I was like for my novel, I'm going to try to like outline a little bit, like I've got nothing, nothing, like I can't do it. It's like until I sit down and like start going, there's just nothing there. Yeah, Um, I really related to that, so thank you for that. Um. So we know you're not a plotter, um, but what is your process like? And also, do you think that your process will evolve as you continue to write more? I hope so, Um, because this, you know, if okay, if you're a plotter and this is just how it works. In my imagination, I am thinking you can just plot your novel and then you just write it and then you edit it and you're done right like that sounds fantastic. Um, yeah, no, Um, I think going into my second book, which is I'm still very early in the process of that. Obviously, Um, I will have a better idea of what to do hopefully not make so many kind of errors along the way. Um, but yeah, I don't. You know, I sorry, my phone is talking. You know what it was? It was I was like, I hear Siri turned off every every device except that one. Apparently. Maybe maybe Siri can help me out with this. I was going to answer you again, but yeah, no, I don't. I mean I I don't know how to do it, though, because it's like I sit down and try to make even a rough outline and I'm just like, I don't know what happens. Like, you know, sometimes I will have an idea of how I wanted to end, like when I wrote Um creatures, I knew how I wanted it to end, like especially the parts with Marcellus, and I won't Spoil Anything for folks who haven't read it, but I kind of knew how that scene was going to look and I knew that that's what I was building toward. But Um, you know, beyond the beginning and end, I feel like it's just, you know, kind of feel your way through the dark. Hopefully a little bit more efficiently next time. Um, hopefully I can find the mistakes earlier before I've wasted days and days writing material that ultimately is not going to work. Good luck with that. Yeah, let us know how that works out. Find out how to do that, please. Secret. Yeah, somebody on this show said one time, and I remember who it was. I wish I could, but they were like, you either pay up front or you pay it there outlining. Who Wasn't Aril Lahan? Yes, so it's like you either like you're you're bleeding through that outline, the line at the beginning, or you're bleeding through all those audits at the end. But it's like at some point you gotta pay the Piper for your life. We it's like I get to the end of the book and I'm like, is there a timeline here, because it feels like maybe there's not, and it would be great if I could do that upfront. But again, that's very timelines. Yeah, probably one time my husband. I had my timeline so messed up I gave it to my husband, who's an engineer, and I said, I just need you to untangle it. He looked at me up for a few hours and he said, well, one problem is you've got five weekends in the month. There's only four weeks in a month. So that's one of the problems we've got. I don't think I've ever told this on this show, but my debut novel went all the way through copy editing and, Um, my best friend is a C P A and I sent it to her shelf. So she's like really nervous, like we just read it and tell me what you think. Do you want me back? And she's like I love it, it's amazing. And she's like but but the time, like none of the timeline is right. Like you, it's it's like a disaster, Um, and so we had to like pull the book back and like Redo the whole timeline and I'm like, what if that book had gone out? And like she you know, she has to read all the books. Yeah, shelby, this could be in the vault and that's okay, but are you working on anything...

...and if so, can you? Yeah, you know, I'm trying. Uh, let me have my moment when this from the hospital and someone's like when you're having your next one where you get married and they're like when you having kids? Yeah, no, you know I am. I'm not a fast writer. I've learned that after become, you know, getting more in this kind of author world and seeing people who apparently write much faster than I do. But so I'm working my way through it. I'm a slow writer. Um, I'm kind of an exploratory writer. But you know, it's it's not going to be a sequel. Um. I have thought a lot about that and sometimes I still do think about it, like, you know, could I do a sequel? Could I do a Prequel, like, is there any way to add more to the story somehow? And I always come back to like I just don't think so. I mean I could, but it's like yeah, that I told the story and I love tow it ended and that's the end. Um. I will say I do. I love like weird stuff, and so I think my next book, Um, it will have some kind of weirdness, something that's you know, like makes people say like what, okay, Um, so I'm working on Signi also right now there is one character who is not fully human. Um, but that's all I'll say. That's awesome. I feel like we've just written her new tagline, like she'll be van Peltz, some kind of weirdness. What. Okay, I feel like that should be across like the top of your website. Now, that's awesome. So shell be these days, being a book club pick is kind of the dream and I think, Um, the most authors out there, US included, have envisioned what it might be like to get that call. So can you tell us about that moment that you found out remarkably bright features, was a read with Jenna Pick Um, and did you have to keep it a secret for a very long time? That would just be torture. Well, yes, it was terrifying. Um. Yeah, I think we got the call sometime maybe, I want to say it was maybe February, Um, before they may release. So good, probably three, three months in advance, and I remember my publicist and my editor called me and we were all like squealing, Um, you know, just pacing around my living room just squealing because we we had submitted it to read with Jenna folks, I think the previous summer. I think it was still like I was still editing it when we sent it to him and then, you know, we just hadn't heard for so long I kind of had put it out of my mind as like, okay, this is probably just not going to happen. Um. So it was almost like this great surprise that kind of, you know, resurfaced from the depths of where I had suppressed it down to protect my own emotions. Uh. And so it was great and we had this celebration for like, you know, twenty minutes and then they were like okay, now take this information and like put it in a vault because if it gets out they can take it away. Um. And so remember my publicist saying, yeah, you know, you could, you couldn't? Tell your husband? Maybe, but only if you're if you're okay with pursuing divorce if it gets out. So and of course I did tell him and you know, we had a really nice bottle of champagne that night. It was great, but Um, yeah, it's I mean it's a great thing. Obviously, it did add an extra layer of just, you know, stress and steaks to something that was already a pretty Um, high stakes situation or just high I don't want to say high stress, because it's stress implies that it's bad. But Um God, I'm a writer, I shouldn't know what it's good stress. Yeah, but yeah, it heightened everything. I felt like it just heightened everything quite a bit. Yeah, and then we weren't sure. I mean it was because of like, you know, covid like, oh, macron was raging ng at the time. Um, it was just this unknown of like, well, are we going show? Um, and so that was just kind of remained a question mark until a few weeks before. And so, yeah, it was just like this, you know, keep, keep all of the last half of May free so that you can, you know, be ready to get on a plane and, oh my gosh, okay, just put your life on a hole. But I mean happily I will, of course. But yeah, I think we all yes, exactly, yes, oh my gosh. Well, shelby, this is great. We have it so many amazing Um questions that are coming in free you. Umdaby coopermin stone just said remarkably bright creatures for book hangover of the year. I'm gonna save that. There was another. Oh, I love this. Kim Lewis said, shall be your book made me look at octopuses in a New Light. Much like water for elephants...

...did for elephants for me, Um, which is really, really cool. Um Golden. Yes, and Jennifer Golden said that this was her favorite book of two and she loved the Audio version. So that's amazing. How do you would you mind pulling a lat question for us? Please? No, I would love to. Okay, so a lot of people are asking about what we talked about off camera before you came on, not that I'm kidding, but about the documentary my octopus teacher that so many people watch during lockdown. So the timing was so interesting. I would love you to tell our viewers a bit about that. Um. Yeah, well, so, first off, it's a wonderful documentary. If you haven't seen it, highly, highly recommend it. Um. It doesn't go in as much as much of the human drama as like my book does, but it's just fascinating and I think it's like an hour and a half. It's not super long or anything. I watched it with my kids and and they loved it too. Um, and my octopus teacher. So I will say what I said off camera. Um. I had just I had finished writing my book and was getting ready to queery it like send it out to agents. When my octopus teacher came out and I remember seeing the little blurb for it on Netflix and my heart just dropping into my stomach thinking like someone, someone did the same idea, someone made a movie. Like it's it's over before it's even begun. For me, Um, and I think every writer has that fear, certainly all of my writer friends. It's just this huge anxiety that always is in the back of your mind that what you're doing isn't actually original. and Um, you know, and there's maybe something. There is a lot of you know, nothing, ever at least totally original. So I get that. But Um, but it ended up being the biggest stroke of luck that I could have possibly asked for because, you know, it came out, everyone was watching it during covid and you know, I sent my manuscript out to these agents and it was just top of mind for everyone. Like octopuses, you know, it's getting all this critical acclaim and you know, that was just one of those lucky things that I didn't plan it that way, um, but it was very, very lucky for me. No great synchronicity. I mean I think sometimes that we, if we follow our impulses like you did with the octopus. These beautiful synchronistic things happened. So it was a bit more than luck. You did a lot of hard work. Shelby. Anissa Armstrong is asking was Marcellus the hardest character to write and uh, if so, we're not why not or why. He was the most fun character to write for sure. Um, definitely the thing that kind of kept me going and the character that, Um, I don't know if you guys get this, when you kind of are doing a lot of drafting, the arcters kind of live in your head and you'll like hear them talking and reacting to things they were. So he was the one that definitely was most like that for me, kind of in my in my mind. But Um, he wouldn't say he was hard. His voice came really naturally to me. Um, this kind of snarky it's just it was really fonder. I mean it's really fun to write a really judgmental character. It kind of gives you a pass to, you know, kind of be a little bit, you know, snarky and curmunging. Ly. Um, I will say it takes it was slow writing him because it had to be so deliberate and I was constantly kind of checking the language that I was using against what an octopus could possibly know. and Um, yeah, it was. It was. It was slow, but it was not hard. Um, I was actually doing a little q and a for a magazine that's going to come out next month and I was playing around with writing one of my answers as Marcelis, and it was like a it was like a flask from the past, sitting there just trying to channel his voice and get it all right. I don't know if I'm going to have the guts to submit it or not. We'll see. It's so cool. I remember. Yeah, oh, that's awesome. All right, everyone out there, before we find out which shelby has been reading and loving lately, we want to remind you to support independent booksellers when and where you can. So, of course you know that so important to us on this show. One Way to do that is to visit our own friends and fiction bookshop dot org page, where you can find Shelby's book and books by the four of us and our past guests at a discount. All right, shelby, I want to know what you are reading and what you have on your bedside table and if there's anything you've really loved lately. Oh my gosh, so much. Well, I'm a person that always has usually more than what book going at once. So I've got like the bedside book, I've got my car book. Um, I've recently got a kindle, which I had been holding help for years and Um, but finally broke down.

I've got one largely because I'm starting to get people that want me to read their book, to Blur a bit, which is awesome, and you know, a lot of times it's like a it's a pdf that you get, and so I needed to just be able to to load it on a kindle and I actually love it. You know, it just lives in my purse and if I've got a few minutes, I can read a little bit Um, but also on my kindle. I have lessons in chemistry, which I know that all of you guys have. You know everyone it's it's another book that, I feel like, is everyone's talking about right now. So it's probably not like a huge surprised started listening. Yeah, I haven't had an audio. Just started it. Well, so many people had said, Um, the dog, and there's a dog named six thirty. That was like people were saying that it reminded them of Marcellis, and so I was like, okay, I need I need to read I've heard so much great things a really fun read. Um. I just started this Um, the inheritance of Orchao da Davina, I think I'm saying that right. And this is a book that I'm reading purely for fun, UM, which I don't always get to do as much of anymore, you know, between kind of you know, the blurbing and just sort of like research for the books. But a friend of mine gave this to me and she said, you know what it's like, Incanto for grown ups, and I said, sign me up. I'm only I'm only like three or four chapters in, but it is just it's great. It's fun, but it's not a totally fluffy read either. It's got these really um like, you know, generational family themes and sort of cultural connections and things like that. So it's really excited to see where it goes. We seld us for sure, so it's great at mine. Sticking around for just one more minute. We do have um one more question for you. But we have a couple of announcements first, and that's right, and the big one is that, you know what, we're hitting the road again this year. Um, the four of us we're going to do at least for friends and fiction live events, one during each of our upcoming book tours. So stay tuned for news about those four events so you can mark your calendar us and make your travel plans to join us as we take our show on the road in April, May, June and again in the fall. And we are wondering. Have you listened to our writer's block podcasts with all of us and the Librarian? We Love, Ron Block. I mean you know, he's just one of one of the gang. We love him so much. So we'll always post links under announcements each time a new episode drops. Every Friday. On the most recent episode, Ron and Meg Talk to best selling author and Oscar nominated screenwriter Tom Parratta about his new novel, Tracy Flick can't win, his sequel to election. That was two decades in the making. So this week Ron and Christie will talk to Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Andrew Sean greer about his latest less is lost. I cannot wait to hear this. Um, I get to do an event with him about a week and a half ago. He was so funny, Um, and I know, I just know, that he had such a great time with Christie and Ron. So I cannot wait to hear that one. So remember to listen to review, to subscribe all the things the friends and fiction writer's block podcast. Yes, so, shelby, one question that we just always love to ask. What were the values around reading and writing in your house when you were growing up? Oh, I was an only child, so I read a lot. Um, like I said, you know, when I wasn't hanging out with my grandma and cleaning, I was probably with a book in my bedroom. You know, it's really wild and exciting child around my house. Um, but no, it was definitely we were. We were definitely a book family. I was definitely a library kid who would go and, you know, take out as many books as they would allow me. And it's kind of funny as I got, you know, older into being like a you know kind of adolescent and teenager, I leaned hard into reading like the junk, you know, like the Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club and I just Um, it's funny. I was probably a much faster reader back then because I would just devour those books like one after another, Um, and you know, all the library ad I would I would take them, um. But yeah, we were Um, we were definitely a reading family and it's definitely something that is very important to me with my own kids to cultivate that. It's funny. I have a daughter WHO's very inter reading, you know, she's kind of like me. She'll just devour books, and then my son who's kind of like you know, he's sick. So's he's young, but we're you know, I'm hoping that he finds that spark and he may not, you know, and that's you know, that's okay. Not everyone is like that, but Um, but selfishly I kind of hope that he does. It's definitely something that is important in our house. That's awesome. I can like close my eyes and see the Sweet Valley Shelf at my library's gonna take out like three at a time because they're like im the nyms me. Thank you so much for being with US tonight. Um, can you tell everybody where they can keep up with you online? Sure. I'm mostly on in the Graham is where I'm most active...

...and that is shelby van pelt rights. Um. I have a twitter, that God twitter. I go and there's something, I can only go in there when I'm of a mindset of like I am just going to dip a co in and do one thing and then I kill it out of there. But it's it's a shelby van Pelt Um and then my website is just shelby van Pelt Dot Com. It's great. Well, shelby, thank you so much for being here. Um, we we really appreciate it. You've been an incredible guest and we hope they'll come back again when you have a new book. Thank you so much for a thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All Right, friends, it's time for what it's quickly becoming our favorite segment of the show. Ask US anything. But before we start, there were a couple of comments slash quick questions. Um, Jana Ford, patty, wants to know if you have new glasses because she loves them. I do. I can't believe you noticed. Do you like them? It's are a thing that she noticed and liked. Well, the reason I got I mean I stave my old ones, but my old ones are bifocals, so almost always going like that and these are straight up computer classes. So thank you for noticing. Appreciate it. Very cute. Um. And then a lot of people are wanting to know, kristen where they can order a signed copy of the tenth anniversary edition of the sweetest forgetting I would. I mean, I have one, I want to. I have one. You know, it's actually really funny is they said you guys copies, but they never sent me coffee. So you guys got your copies before I got mine, which is hilarious. I'm still waiting on my boss to get here, I know, I know, I'm quickly realizing that. But first, so, so we know who's really important here exactly. Um, yeah, so, uh, you. I've been holding off on posting this until the bookstore uh, posts like an actual page saying this, but I'll sign all the copies they have at writer's block, which is my local bookstore in the Orlando area. So if you want to be guaranteed to sign as signed copy, if you order a copy now from writer's block, Um, it will be signed. I'm also going to be dropping by Oxford Exchange the week the book comes out and I'll sign copies there as well. So, Um, so you can get it from either of those two places and we should tell everyone in our just US episode next week we're going to spend a while diving into the sweetness of forgetting, talking about it, doing a show about it. So, Um, you'll get to hear a lot more about it. It's you know, it's it's such a funny thing to revisit after ten years. I mean you know I wrote it. I wrote it probably twelve years ago. It came out ten years ago. It's just it's it's interesting to have it feel so current again. You know, I don't know, it's so we'd feeling. That's really cool. All right then, Kathy, our our warrior over here, Mary Kay Um uh, as most of you know, had any replacement surgery less than a week ago. Like didn't even miss a show. I mean, I'm like, it's impressive, Um, but a lot of people want to know how you are. I'm sitting up right. I'm doing surprisingly well. Um, a dear friend from my hometown of St Pete, shout out to Mary Anne Bushman, Boohoo Therapist, and I bribed her into coming up here. She's hanging out the squirrel's nest and she's making me do my exercises and it's my knee and doing all the things. Um, but you know, I'm icing, I'm doing my exercises, I'm taking my neds Um and you know, I think the worst part about it was dreading it, I will say. But I will say that, um, I dreaded it so much that, um, my my surgeon called the night before and he said, well, are you looking forward to this? And I said I'm looking forward to having it behind but everybody, thank you all for so many people have emailed and sent nice things. Ron Sent me some delicious truffles today. Some other people, sweet people, sent me some stuff. Um. So anyway, yes, thanks everybody for your good wishes and all I can say is, if you have to do it, do the PREHAB. Do you think they'd helped? All the PREHAB? Do you think it helped? Yeah, I do, Um, the physical therapists said, you know, because I'm not, I was not an athlete. I was not anybody that worked out, but I started going to Prehab um back in June. Oh Wow, yeah, trying to bring build up some muscle strength. So Oh that's awesome. And what they tell you to do. Amazingly, that works. Shocking how when you do it. Sometimes I think about things and I'm like, I don't know why this isn't working. Now I haven't done it, but I'm thinking. I've read about it, every it...

...about it, but I don't understand why it hasn't done anything for me. Made it when you do nothing when in the and you don't get the results that you want. Well, Barbara logic coming in hot with a really great first ask US anything question. Even from our first show, Barbara's always I remember, like one of our first shows, thinking like oh my gosh, I'm totally going to murder her name and her messaging and being like no, you said it right and I was like yes. So she wants to know. How do you decide who to ask to blurb your book? I'd love to know how that works. It's so interesting because I think we're like kind of part I'm sort of just starting that, which is funny because I know you guys are sort of ahead of me and that arena. So Um, Patty, why don't you start off, you know, asking so for those who don't know, what a blurb is that Barbara's asking about. It's the quotes you see on the front of books, like Christie Woods in Harvey's. This is her this is the best book of the century. Love. That was my actual blurb for Patty's book. Yeah, it was. And so, Um, you know, blurns are hard. You'll we don't like asking for them. We love giving them, but it's it's it's part of the business and the way we decide. or or I think we'll all have kind of this same answer. Is Who? Who is? If you would say, if you like this, you'll like this. Right. So, for example, of course, we've all blurred each other's books and setting that aside, like if one of my blurbs on my new book is Christina Baker Klient. So if you it's it's essentially saying if you like her book, then you need to trust what she says about this book. So that's how we decide who to ask and who to Um humble our selves in front of Um to ask. It's really stressful. I think it's stressful. It is. It's start. Yeah, but you know, because I think you're aware that you're asking a you're asking a big favor, because you know you're not saying would you read my book for pleasure? You're saying would you read my book by a certain deadline and then summarize that book with hopefully kind words. And then you also put yourself in the position if you're asking people who you really like in respect, like what if they say sure, I'll give it a read and then you never hear from them, because what do you internal life? Or did they hate the book? And you'll never ask, you'll never, never ask. You like it's really easy to go to a lot of dark places in your head with blurb requests. So it's yeah, I agree that. Yeah, I started today and I'm like, Oh, it's just just's terrible. But I know when people ask me, like I'm so flattered when people ask me. Yeah, yeah, well, you know that you're asking them not only to read it but then to think of the right thing to say. Everybody's busy and like they haven't you know what people's lives are. But then that's how we decide. Yeah, so I really love this question from Jodie Henderson Barber. If you were not a writer, what job would you like to pursue or, alternatively, what are your hobbies, Kathy? You want to take that one first? Well, I'd definitely be a math teacher. Four children would ever be a grade level. I think it would be no surprise to anybody that maybe I would be an antique dealer at my own shop. Makes said a's for everyone. Now let's read books. Opener. I love that Christian. What about you? Well, that was the perfect segue because I think I would do something in the wine industry. Um, you know, because I'm just fascinated by it. I think I always was, but then writing the winemaker's wife, which required me to really learn a lot about how to make champagne. Um, I think just kind of opened up this whole different side of it to me. I think it's magical. I think it's magical and fascinating and I don't know that I'd be any good at it. I don't know that my my palate would be, Um, particularly an expert one, but I think I'd be involved in some way in wine making or um wine distribution, or I'd go back to playing the drums, which I did in high school. So, but that's nobody. Nobody wants that. It would be so great. You could play the drums, and I could see, which I'm not, that she didn't say are you good at it? She just said what would you exactly? Yes, yes, Patty. What about you? Oh Gosh, I'm sitting here like if I isn't, if I was not a writer, what would I...

...be pursuing? I would be pursuing being a writer, like that's what I would be doing. I would be trying to be a writer a country song that we love, Oh, the one about singing. What which that song is so good. They asked him, what would you do if you weren't? He essentially says I'd be doing this, but in small bars and in small exactly that now. I mean most people know I was a nurse beforehand, so I would probably still be doing it too, Um, you know, as a job, and I love decorating and design, but I don't think I could have ever been good enough at it for it to be a job. It's more like a curious pastime. No, you totally would have been. Um. Actually, oh, sorry, go ahead. What would you be? Are you going to be a Bro? I would love that. Yeah, I saw. It would be great, although my calf would have been a problem in these last few weeks, I could have been hobbling around feeding balls. Yeah, yeah, that's true. Um, I worked in finance before I started writing and I actually really liked that job a lot. I learned a lot. It was really fun. It was a lot of like people's stuff and, Um, I really enjoyed that. Um, I don't know. I mean I went to school for Journalism. I loved that. I had a master's in literature so that I could teach. Um, honestly, when I started writing, I was like really torn about all these different things I wanted to do. I was thinking about going back to school to get my PhD. Um, I kind of wanted to go get another master's and something science, e. I mean, you know, you just I was all over the map, like I think my mother was worried about me. She was like, Oh my God, I've got to find yourself, and I was also like she was also like, why are you such a slacker and have no ambition? Yes, exactly, exactly. You know, when I was like doing all these things and like I was like freelance writing and I was doing my finance job and I wouldn't got my yoga certification. I don't know, it was just like all over the map of like what am I going to do with my life? And I think it will. I was like really getting ready to start applying to go back to you and see you to get my PhD. and well, I was like what do you really want to do, like what's The in game? Like, do you really want to go spend five more years at school? I think that's really I just wanted to be like a student for the rest of my life. Um, but Um, I was like, I think I want to write a book, and he was like, well, you should do that. So we spend five years of your life, you know, getting a PhD and like maybe teaching somewhere. Um. So, anyway, that was a really long answer, but I don't know, like there's so many things that I'm interested in. I was like, I love sign I don't know, I could have done all sorts of things, and I think that's why writing is so great for all of us, because we get to live all these lives, different lives. It's like a spider web, right. So, you know, and and I've often said if I could just stick with one time period or one subject or one but no, I want to live all the different things all of them, speaking of living, all the different things. I would just like you to know Sean has said in the comments he'll produce my album. So, I mean this writing thing has been fun, but Sean, what about my album? Christie? Let's do an album together. Oh, do it? Okay? So well, yeah, we'll really show up for that. Well, do you all think we should um the next time we have a justus show, that we should ask people um to guess what hats will wear? Oh yeah, for sure, because we have a just US coming up on October. I'm hosting. It's going to be epic. I don't know what it's going to be, but it's gonna be ethic. We're gonna do you guys think there should be Hagar? Course, yes, always, and let them guess what kind before we even come up. Yeah, Oh, I've already decided my hat, four hats, and assigned them to the four people. Oh, meg says we should surprise each other. MM, I like it. I like it. I think I know what I'm gonna wear. Got It. Okay. Well, maybe we should be a character from one of our books. That's a good idea. Yeah, shelby would have to be an octopus. Costume, though, like easy thing to dress up as, versus like US trying to be some like random, like. Yeah, that's true. Yeah, we should have asked me. That is is that what she's going to be for Halloween from now on? Shelby was really thinking when she did that, like just in case there's ever a costume party, like she is, she already has it. I love talking to her. She was so anxious. was so great. She really was. All right, ladies, well, y'all are amazing. Love you all. Let's go eat dinner. Well, wait,...

...wait, before we wrap up, one final reminder. You probably know about our friends and fiction official book club with Brenda and Lisa. They're always reading fun books chatting about fun things. Their latest book club chat was with Kimberly Brock last week. So Um, you can catch the replay on facebook or Youtube and mark your calendars right now to join P B and J on October for a happy hour with our amazing podcast hosts and Librarian Ron Block. And, in case you don't know, you can find all of our back episodes on Youtube and are brilliant, Patty just realized, because we are not like so good with the Youtube. But yeah, but if you notice while you're watching the video there's a little bell on the top right and if you click that you'll get notified when a new episode is up. So we're live there every week, just like we are on facebook, and if you subscribe you'll never miss a thing. Be Sure to come back here next week, same time, same place, as we welcome Number One New York Times best selling and Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout to talk about her latest novel, Lucy by the sea. Good night, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. You can join us every week on facebook or Youtube, where our live show airs on Wednesday nights at seven PM eastern time. Also, subscribe to our podcast and follow us on instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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